I try to remember the first time I met Buddy, aka Tiger Six, but the memory slips my mind. But we were friends and I have other great memories of him. Buddy was full of shit most of the time, and like many others over there, always had some story to tell ya, some true & some maybe not so true, but one thing I know about him….You could count on him watching your back. Wether on a mission, outside or inside the wire, or just as a friend, Buddy was there for ya, at least he was for me. I want to share with you a couple of memories I have of him with you.
I remember the night I was fired from KBR. He didn’t care what kind of bullshit KBR was trying to sling about why they were firing me; he just cared that I was being sent home and that I didn’t want to go. Sitting in Cedar II, in the newly built “man camp,’ he gave me a big hug and offered me a drink. Several of his crew, Buddy and I sat in his hooch that night, got drunk, told stories, laughed and I got the support that I needed. (The picture above & just below are from that night.)
We stayed in contact the 7 months before I went back to Iraq working for IAP. He was one of the first people that I looked up when I hit Camp Cedar on my first mission north from Kuwait! His bright smile and laugh at the sight of me back over there was enough to tell me that even 7 months later, after all the rumors that flew around about me, he was still my friend and he still had my back.
Skip forward a couple of months. I am on the IAP HET crew. My convoy rolls into BIAP. All I can think about is getting to see my son, Kenny, who is in the Army and stationed there at that time. I can’t remember where I ran into Buddy and his crew that day, I just remember that I was waiting from Kenny to get back to BIAP, he was out on patrol around Baghdad. Buddy & I had things we had to do during the day but set up a time for me to bobtail back over to the KBR staging lanes and hang out for a while and catch up on everything.
That evening, we moved a coupe of the bobtails to the back of the staging area, cranked up some music, brought out the booze and danced, drank, laughed and just had a good time. Some where in there I noticed that there was a full moon, or someone noticed it anyway, and we thought it would be a cool idea to be standing on the top of one of the tankers & howl at the moon at midnight. Not sure if that was my idea or someone else’s. We were feeling pretty good at the time. Come midnight, guess where we were? Yeap, on top of a tanker loaded with JP8 fuel, lit cigarettes in one hand, drinks in the other, howling at the moon and drunk!
Once we had our fun with that it was time to get our drunk butts down from up there and hit the sack. Red turned his ankle getting down and Buddy told me to stay where I was while he took care of Red. I remember watching the guys load Red up in their bobtail and driving to the front of their lanes. I remember feeling sleepy and laying back onto the catwalk on top of the tanker…I don’t remember much after that. Little memories of Buddy and someone getting me down and wanting to make sure I didn’t fall off. (Thanks guys!) Then, because it was HOT and we couldn’t lock the trucks from the outside without a key, & Buddy was one of the few people that knew about the sexual assault that happened in Kuwait in 2004, Buddy put me in the bunk and climbed into the drivers seat. That is where I found him the next morning, sleeping in the drivers seat. He had stayed there in that uncomfortable seat to watch by back. He knew how important that was to me.
No matter what anyone says or thinks about him, that is who he is & will always be to me. My friend that knew that I would face bombs and bullets to bring supplies to the troops without out a second thought, but was terrified of sleeping without a locked door between me and the rest of the world.
Buddy, I know we have not talked in several years, for that I am sorry and that will be my only regret in knowing you. I am gonna miss you. And though you may not walk the face of this planet any more, I know you are up in the best vantage point you can find, to continue watching our six.